A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tobson's Winners 1976 - 1980

The new voting system, designed by Heikki Seppälä of Yle and introduced in Stockholm 1975, was deemed a success and is still in use - but an important improvement was implemented during these five years.

Until 1979, the points were read out in the order of appearance, which made it hard for the scrutineers to follow the action and on several occasions it lead to mistakes on the final result.

The first of song mentioned in this post was a victim of that.

1976 - Yugoslavia

Ambasadori - Ne mogu skriti svoju bol (Yugoslavia 1976)

When all points were counted in 1976, Ambasadori from Sarajevo were left in last place since the French jury forgot to read out their four points aimed at Yugoslavia. This was not corrected until later, and by that time Yugoslav television had already withdrawn - not to return until five years later in Dublin.

"I Cannot Hide My Pain" was a fitting title - minutes before going on stage, lead singer Ismeta had accidentally been hit on the face by a photographer's camera. All makeup was wiped off her face to make sure she wasn't badly hurt, explaining her pale look as there was no time to put it on again.

Ismeta would come back many times as a head of delegation for Bosnia, but never with a song as strong as this one. Melodic, melancholic and very well performed.

In my book, this is the best entry Former Yugoslavia ever sent in. And I am pretty fond of most of their entries.

Real winner:
Brotherhood of Man - Save Your Kisses For Me (United Kingdom)

1977 - France

Marie Myriam - L'oiseau et l'enfant (France 1977)

1977 is another of this crushingly fantastic years in Eurovision. Almost all songs are great little pearls in their own right, and quite a few of them are real masterpieces.

However, this is yet another winner you can't argue with. She is Marie Myriam. The song is L'oiseau et l'enfant. That is very hard to beat.

Pure class from beginning to end. Wonderful in every aspect of the word.

Real winner:
Marie Myriam - L'oiseau et l'enfant (France)

1978 - Germany

Ireen Sheer - Feuer (Germany 1978)

If 1977 is an extraordinarily strong year, then 1978 is the sharp opposite with far too many lean song that are perhaps not bad but unimpressive.

Anyhow, I have three songs that fight it out for my personal top title. The other two are Ricchi e Poveri from Italy and Baccara for Luxembourg, but Ireen Sheer is the one that runs away with the crown.

She is putting on a brave face as the French orchestra completely slaughters what in its studio version is a bang-up-to-date disco song, and she also gives us the first dress trick in eurovision history (if I haven't forgetten something vital).

How this song was beaten by completely insignificant songs from France, Monaco and Ireland is beyond me. But it probably says quite a lot about the juries in use this year.

Real winner:
Izhar Cohen & Alpha Beta - A Ba Ni Bi (Israel)

1979 - France

Anne-Marie David - Je suis l'enfant soleil (France 1979)

Yet another very strong edition song-wise. The last 70's was a good era and what went wrong in 1978, we will never know. Here are real gems from Portugal, Greece, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland... as well as many others.

(There are also some really horrid bottom-of-the-league stuff as well, but let's not even mention Monaco.)

And again that stage beast that is Anne-Marie David just walks in and wipes the floor with all competition. She nails the camera with those eyes and sings her heart out in a fantastically classy ballad.

A trained eye will note that she uses the same backing group as Ireen Sheer did in Paris. Another trained eye will recognise Yardena Arazi dancing in the postcard (it is Yardena, right?).

Real winner:
Milk & Honey - Hallelujah (Israel)

1980 - Turkey

Ajda Pekkan - Pet'r Oil (Turkey 1980)

If you are looking for the best exotic-flavoured eurosong of all time this is a very hot contender for the title. Catchy, fun and danceable and very well sung, there is no possibility this entry would have placed lower than, say, third these days.

Back in the day, the Turkish entries were still far too different for the juries to digest and despite scoring one top mark, Ajda didn't place better than fifteenth.

At least she did better than the other exotic pearl taking part - Samira from Morocco scored only seven points and ended second last.

Eurovision just wasn't your ideal vehicle if you wanted to be different. Some things do get better with time.

Real winner:
Johnny Logan - What's Another Year


  1. It is fun to see how different people think about the same things. I've always been fond of 1978 and because of good songs and great orcestral arrangements! It may be because it was the first contest I remember watching from start to finish. Also I've grown listening to my tape recordings of this contest and I didn't hear the studio versions of these songs until the mid 1990's and often disappointed.

    I love what the orchestra is doing with the German song. Also the Luxembourgeois, Irish and Belgian (to name couple of my favourites) songs sound to me much better live than on record.

    Biggest improvement was the Norwegian song, which is heavenly arranged when played live (oboe always gives me shivers), and the dylanesque studio version is completely different song. I could almost say that Mil etter mil in its live version was the best moment in 1978!

    I'm also fond of 1979 for the same reasons. I agree about Je suis l'enfant soleil being the best song of the evening. Anne-Marie David was also backed by superb arrangement played beautifully by the IBA orchestra (the studio version to me is pale in comparison), which also did a great deal to many other songs (Luxemburg, Austria, Finland, Portugal to name just a few).

    1979 was in my opinion one of the greatest years ever, perfect in many ways. The stage was bright and beautiful and the obligatory "revolving object" on stage was much better than what BBC had to offer in 1977 or 1982. The revolving orchestra à la RTF in 1978 was somewhat ridiculous.

    To me the late 1960's, the whole 1970's and the early 1980's were the golden ages of Eurovision, lot's of great memories and classic songs. After 1985 The Eurovision was never the same, unfortunately.


  2. Wasn't the backing choir of Ireen Sheer and Anne-Marie David also backing Marie Myriam?

  3. Another comment if I may...

    The French entry in 1979 is notable for, apart from being the second and last appearance of Anne-Marie David in Eurovision, being also the last Eurovision entry composed by Hubert Giraud.

    Giraud was responsible for the first French Eurovision victory when he composed Dors mon amour for André Claveau in 1957. After that he wrote an unbeatable set of Eurovision entries for the french speaking countries:
    France 1958
    France 1959
    Monaco 1960
    Monaco 1961
    France 1967
    Luxemburg 1971 and of course France 1979.

    He has also written songs for other stars, and probably his best known song is Sous le ciel de Paris for Édith Piaf. Ralph Siegel may have beaten him in the quantity of Eurovision entries, but never in the quality! André Popp came close.

    Do you have a favourite Eurovision songwriter, I very much doubt it is Mr Siegel or Fredrik Kempe.

    By the way, Tobias, do you have any clue what do the words of "Je suis l'enfant soleil" refer to? Is it to a certain event in history, certain period of time or certain person? Who was the man that the protagonist called "man of snow", why was the protagonist called "child of sun"? Who were the men that came after the man and why? I've tried to figure out the meaning of the words of the song but I have never understood the meaning of the song.


  4. I´m a bit surprised that Belgium´s "L´amour ca fait chanter la vie" in -78 is not in your taste. Jean Vallée may not be the most charismatic singer, but his soft ballad is outstanding. Especially in the studio version of course, but then, which song did the French orchestra NOT slaughter?

  5. Björn:

    of course Belgium 1978 is to my taste, I love the recorded version of it. But not only does that French hobby orchestra tear it apart, I'm not a fan of the way Jean Vallée sings it on stage.

    There is something about his intonation and phrasing that annoys me with the live version. But it is a very good song. Sensational for being Belgian.

  6. Mikko:

    Indeed, tastes differ. I think that French orchestra fails even with songs that should be tailormade for it - like France and Italy.

    But I do agree with Norway. The live version is really over the top.

    As for the contest never being the same again... That is necessary. If the ESC got stuck in how it "should" be - if we still had an orchestra and the same type of songs as in the 70's - I think the contest would have been abandoned a long time ago.

    It has to keep developing, and it is up to everyone to decide whether they like it or not. They can never take the old contests away from us anyway.

  7. Mikko:

    Je suis l'enfant soleil tells the dramatic story of a stranger coming from the north, who is offered employement by the protagonists father and awakens strong emotions in her.

    In the end, it turns out he is a fugitive of some sort, and gets taken away by some men who come to arrest him.

    If there is any historical background to it, then I have no clue. But it remains a rare piece of drama, like many French languaged entries before it (and after).

  8. About 1978 and all the rest: I agree with you even when I disagree with you. That is partly why I am looking forward to your comments on the 1980's and 90's.